Here’s one thing to be happy about from Sunday night’s game: I thought the Wolves were doomed in the third quarter. With the Mavs up by double-digits in that period, I was certain the Wolves would quietly fade away — the fourth quarter would be irrelevant, as the Mavs would have sealed the deal by the time we reached the final period.
That didn’t happen. The Wolves displayed some resiliency in the third quarter, as they made the proper adjustments to climb back into the game — and, in fact, the game was tied as we entered the final stanza.
But before we talk about the debacle that was the fourth quarter, let’s talk about the third for a minute. Because it was a skitzo quarter…the Wolves came out of the halftime locker room playing like absolute garbage, but to this team’s credit, they were able to adjust on the fly to remain competitive.
For some inexplicable reason, the Wolves completely went away from Al Jefferson on the offensive end in the opening minutes of the third quarter. I don’t get it…the team’s best offensive option wasn’t even touching the ball for three or four straight possessions during that time period. I guess that just highlights the fact that Al still needs to become more assertive on the offensive end…he’s been doing a better job of demanding the ball while the team’s on offense, but if tonight’s third quarter was any indication, there’s still some progress to be made. He still hasn’t quite become the alpha dog that this team needs him to become…although, he is getting closer.
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Another problem the Wolves faced in the third quarter was a lack of
aggressiveness on offense. Too much ill-advised jump shooting from Foye
and Marko, not enough dribble penetration by the smalls, not enough
touches in the interior for the bigs. The craptacular jump shooting
that this team often displays should be a sign that hoisting up jumpers
with 15 seconds left on the shot clock isn’t the smartest style of play
for them on offense…despite that fact, though, the Wolves’ offense focused almost exclusively on the jump shot to begin the second half.
But then things changed. Roughly halfway
through the third quarter, Gomsey found a seam and took advantage…he
drove to the bucket, getting an easy layup and a trip to the free throw
line. We finally started going back to Jefferson, who finished the game with 22
points, but should have finished with quite a few more.
fourth quarter, that comeback suddenly became meaningless. The Wolves
and Mavs entered the fourth tied at 71, but things got out of hand for
our squad rather quickly.
Tonight, "Fourth Quarter Foye" was
anything but. Wittman put him into the game with about 10:30 remaining
in the fourth quarter, and I was looking forward to seeing Foye provide
the squad with key shots as they attempted to remain competitive with
a far-superior team down the stretch. The Wolves proceeded to get
chased off their homecourt while under Foye’s direction…there were no
clutch shots, no plays on the offensive end that shifted the momentum
in the Wolves’ favor. The Mavs quickly got off to a 16-6 run in the
fourth, and our squad had no response.
The stat line for Foye is
cringe-inducing. Two points, one assist, and 1-6 from the field.
Yikes. He had been playing quite well over the past week or
so…against the Spurs, 76ers, and Lakers, he averaged roughly 15
points and five assists per game. Today’s game is just one that he
needs to erase from his memory — anyone who watched the game can
attest to the fact that Foye wasn’t even close to his usual self
However, while one point guard had a horrible
game, another had an impressive one. Sebastian finished the evening
with 10 points (5-8 from the field), and seven assists…and I’m
definitely starting to change my opinion on Bassy. Does he still have
a complete inability to finish his drives? Yep. But as the season has
dragged on, Bassy has gotten increasingly better at distributing the
ball, and he’s really been bringing a nice flow to the offense when
he’s in the game. And that’s the biggest thing I want to see from
this team on the offensive end: Flow. As we saw in the early third
quarter and most of the fourth quarter on Sunday, this whole "stand
around and shoot jumpers" thing ain’t gonna cut it. Bravo to Bassy.
Jim Pete hit the nail on the head regarding the Wolves’ problem
on the defensive end: They weren’t physical enough with Dirk. With
uncontested jumpers available to him throughout the majority of the
game, Dirk coasted to 29 points, shooting 10-15 from the field.
I guess that’s pretty much it. Another game where our guys remained
competitive with a far superior team for the majority of the game, only
to blow it in the final period. Pretty disappointing, but then again,
it’s a script we’ve gotten used to by now.